Long Tail of the Neighborhood ‘Cossack Air’

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From braving the wilderness of early Tumblr to its renaissance TikTok“Kazakh Weather” district (stylized as a neighborhood) has resonated with generations of netizens, bridging the pre- and post-air eras. Along the way it has amassed 2.1 billion Spotify streams, 1.7 billion YouTube views and has now earned an RIAA diamond certification for sales exceeding 10 million song units; this is one of only 106 songs to reach the milestone.

These accolades affected the song’s co-writers a little differently.

“It’s hard to believe he’s reached such a big milestone,” says guitarist Zach Abels. “I think it’s really hard for all of us to accept it as a reality.”

front man Jesse RutherfordCurrently embarking on a solo project for Atlantic Records under the pseudonym Jesse®, he definitely sees his place in the past. “That moment was a long time ago,” he says. “Honestly, it’s weird that I’m still talking about it.”

When asked what it feels like to be a diamond, Rutherford replied, “I’m so tough.” But on the other hand, he is grateful for the doors opened by the “Kazakh Air”.

After all, the Neighborhood wouldn’t exist without it. “Zach used to play that riff all day,” Rutherford recalls. “I finally recorded it and made the beat accordingly.”

Abels’ collection of the song’s origins is similarly cool. “It was a very strange time,” she says. “I was about to graduate high school and Jesse was doing his own thing.” When Rutherford wanted to record Abels playing riffs at his mother’s house, he happily agreed. “I didn’t have any plans for that.”

Rutherford dropped vocals and soon brought a demo to Abels and Neighborhood co-founder Jeremy Freedman. “The whole song was complete at that point, except for some melodic changes in the first line,” Rutherford recalls. “It was the first song the three of us wrote together, it felt great.”

Abels was similarly excited. “’Wow, that looks like a real song!’ This is exactly how the neighborhood was formed.”

From the start, it was a slow burn. The band posted “Sweater Weather” and “Female Robbery” online without a press photo or bio. Given my spelling, most experts assumed the Neighborhood was British. However, the song continued to be shared online and the buzz increased. Despite a major record deal and hit debut album, “Sweater Weather” didn’t break the Billboard Hot 100 until June 22, 2013, after which it took another six months to peak at number 14 on December 28, 2013.

And the story doesn’t end there.

“Sweater Weather” has a strange habit of clinging to wherever digital thinkers congregate; Vine finds its place on YouTube and TikTok, where it receives an average of more than one million views per day worldwide in 2023. “The internet has really carried the song and clearly continues to carry it,” says Abels. “I think we came out on social media at the right time and became a group that people can connect to online.”

Rutherford realized that the song was going nowhere when it started to rebound year after year. “Every time autumn comes through the winter,” she says Variation. “We accidentally hit a season, which has always been a silly thought for me.” Beyond that, the singer-songwriter who has just released her solo singles “Joker” and “Rainbow” has a hard time explaining her charms. “It’s especially hard to know or pinpoint anything,” she says. “Melody? beat? Lyrics? moment? Probably a little bit of all that stuff.

When asked how he felt about creating something semi-immortal, Rutherford seems taken aback—as if “Sweater Weather” wasn’t something that took up much space in his mind. “I don’t think of it as that big of a deal,” he says. “It doesn’t seem to affect my life in any extreme way.”

But Abels finds a pragmatic benefit: “If this song allows us to keep making music, then I’m sick.”

As Rutherford prepares his solo album, Neighborhood doesn’t exactly sit in 2023. Their debut album “I Love You” turned 10 in April, and the band celebrated it by releasing their 10th anniversary edition on DSPs, followed by a commemorative 2LP 12″ vinyl release on September 29. The new version of the album includes: “Sweater Weather” and hit songs such as “Afraid” and “A Little Death” previously released on the EPs “I’m Sorry…” and “Thank You”.

“We are now friends and we all support each other,” Abels says of Rutherford’s solo journey as Jesse®. As for the band’s future plans? “I really can’t go too deep, but I think the future will be bright for us.”

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